By Kyle | April 17, 2012
A very funny piece was in the Sunday Times (paywall) this week in which TV critic/restaurant critic AA Gill hit the campaign trail with London’s shambling manboy Tory mayor Boris Johnson — who even in a super-liberal district of the country is amazingly popular. Anyway, Gill does something that’s pretty hard to do–he is funny about his subject, and yet more or less fond, at the same time.
[Johnson] is here to glad-hand the locals. He grabs a handful of leaflets: “My nine-point plan for a greater London.”
It’s full of lots of pictures of Boris: Boris reading meaningfully, Boris shaking hands warmly, Boris standing between men in hi-vis jackets fraternally, Boris in a hard hat hardly, Boris with policemen arrestingly, Boris planting a tree with black children woodenly, Boris with old ladies geriatrically, Boris with bike bipedally. And the only picture without Boris is of No 10 Downing Street, wishfully.
The mayor bundles down the street with his characteristic, head-down gait, like a man going to settle a score. He stops people loudly, with an exaggerated politeness, asks if he can give them a leaflet and rely on their vote, adding needily that they mustn’t forget to vote. Everyone nods and says yes.
He runs away down the hill towards Shepherd’s Bush, Oxfordshire, Wales, America. “Where am I going?” he demands of the sky.
“The wrong way,” answers his minder, a nice girl called Camilla from Central Office. “Ah,” he spins round and retraces his steps.
An economically unencumbered man, resting for a day’s benchwork, is immensely excited to see Boris. He flourishes a copy of The Big Issue. “Ah, yes, right, of course,” mutters Boris, searching his pockets for the loose change that all savvy candidates carry for chuggers, tin-rattlers and Big Issue-sellers.
“No, no,” says the man, pulling the magazine back. It’s his personal copy, he wants Boris to sign it. “I got Ringo on Portobello Road,” he says. The cover photo of Simon Cowell has Ringo printed on it. Boris scribbles on Cowell’s chin and hands over a leaflet. We move on, briskly.